In the last few weeks we FINALLY launched the JetDeck and have had hundreds of conversations with individuals, dealers, Flyboard enthusiasts, and newcomers to the sport. We've been blown away by the positive response, even by those who have been around since the early days and are heavily invested in other products. We've loved showing off the JetDeck and what it can do, but we didn't anticipate all the questions about our story and where we come from. So sit down and buckle up...
In the early days of WaterFlight, we remember seeing companies like Jetlev and Zapata Racing launch incredible products that gave your average joe the ability to fly. We have nothing but immense respect for these early pioneers, and love the devices they created. It was the Flyboard that really caught our attention and got our imaginations going. And by "us"... basically a couple of guys with a lot of metal, tools and empty garage space.
Creating our own waterflight toys started out as a hobby. Within a few weeks of the Flyboard's launch, we were flying around on a similar device of our own. The only significant difference was that our first design had independent control of the feet/nozzles, which gave the rider the ability to spin and twist, and which we assumed would be easier to control than the Flyboard (feet connected together).
The downside of this additional movement was that it didn't work very well unless the hose was directly under the rider. If we tried to spin off-axis, our spin would either be stopped abruptly by the hose, or we'd have to awkwardly twist our feet up and over the hose and try to get them back under us before we fell. So at this point, independent feet seemed to be a blessing and a curse, and we could see why the Flyboard kept the feet together.
Flying on something that we created felt incredible, but after those first few flights we were even more stoked to tear it apart and make something better. We also wanted something that weighed less than 80lbs. Our goal was to create a platform that would feel completely free in the air, and could spin, twist, and carve in all directions, independent of the stiff hose beneath it.
Over the next year, we built several different designs. The first of these we're large, clunky, & heavy universal-joint-based systems that weren't very efficient with the water flow, but gave us the kind of movement we were looking for.
It was a complete thrill to be flying with full independence from the hose, and we were pretty happy with ourselves. Our product development probably would have stopped right there, until someone showed up with the actual Flyboard from Zapata Racing.
At this point we'd all been flying a lot, but when we took the Flyboard out to the lake we couldn't get comfortable on it at all. We felt claustrophobically stiff in the air and couldn't accomplish any of the maneuvers that we were accustomed to. We're not interested in bashing another product and will tell anyone that the Flyboard is an incredible product that jump-started the entire industry. However, that first flight with the Flyboard was when we first realized that what we had been working on was a huge leap forward in the sport, and from that point in time our hobby became much more than a hobby.
The JetDeck Design
The biggest problem we faced at this point was that our current design that provided all of this freedom was just too heavy, too big, lost too much power, and was too ugly to be turned into a legitimate product. So we jumped back into prototyping phase and started building several radically different prototypes that we hoped would get us what we were looking for.
The early stand-out among these models was the JetDeck, which crossed two flexible hoses back-to-back between the two nozzles, giving the rider the same freedom of movement that we had grown accustomed to in a small, efficient, and lightweight package. The downside to this design was that we couldn't find a flexible hose that wouldn't kink or blow out on us. We honestly went through every single self-claimed "world's most flexible hose" and either blew out or badly kinked each one, but we loved this design, so we got ourselves into the hose development business as well...
Our first flight on what eventually became the JetDeck
After a million tweaks we eventually ended up with a hose that can take a load of 1,000 GPM (gallons per minute) and completely bend over on top of itself while maintaining a constant flow. We've put hundreds of hours of testing on these hoses, and can confidently say that this is the MOST FLEXIBLE HOSE IN THE WORLD. And none of what you just read is actually important... What's important is that you can strap yourself into the JetDeck and experience complete freedom in the air. Balance in all directions is intuitive, turning and spinning is easy in any situation, and the rider won't be wrangled around by a heavy, stiff hose.
We failed to mention that along this journey we made some great friends and ended up partnering with a full service aluminum foundry & machine-shop with 60 years of experience and a 50,000 sq/ft facility. Everything we make is designed, developed, manufactured, and assembled here in the USA. Not that this makes us better than any other company, or country... but what it does mean is we can develop and prototype new products and solutions here in our own backyard that will continue to push the sport forward and drive innovation.
DEFY is 100% dedicated to our riders, and we're in it for the sport. We look forward to supporting you in any way that we can. So keep your eyes peeled, cuz there's more coming in the pipeline.